The Rich History of Sweetwater, Texas
An oasis with sweet water amid bitter-tasting gypsum streams, Sweetwater has always been a place to rest one’s head and weary feet. Long before the settlers and ranchers arrived, the Kiowa Indians named the site “Mobeetie,” which was their word for “sweet water.”
The area of Nolan County had no Anglo settlers until after the Civil War, when buffalo hunters came to the plains. The first stirrings of the community might be set in 1877, when Billie Knight ran a dugout store for buffalo hunters in the area. The county’s first post office was opened in 1879 in the village of Sweet Water, which was two words until the spelling was officially changed in 1918. The original name of the post office was Blue Goose, supposedly because some local cowboys killed a great blue heron under the impression that it was a variety of goose.
By 1880, the census reported 640 county residents. The county was named for Philip Nolan, and was organized after an election held January 20, 1881. The Texas and Pacific Railway reached Sweetwater in March 1881, but the site held only a couple of tent stores and no permanent buildings when Sweetwater was designated the permanent county seat on April 12, 1881. The first newspaper, the Sweetwater Advance, began publishing that same year.
By 1883, there were five saloons and other businesses. A store building constructed in 1881-82 at a cost of $8,755 served as both a jail and a courthouse until a new courthouse was built in 1891. Grand jury indictments returned throughout the county in 1881-83 included 17 for murder, 17 for assaults to murder and 45 for gambling and carrying pistols, but there is no indication that Sweetwater itself was an unruly community. Its population remained small and relatively stable for several years.
610 East 3rd St.
Sweetwater, TX 79556
Phone: (325) 235-8547
Tuesday – Friday
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm